Following in the uneven tradition of holiday discs by pop acts like 'N Sync and Christina Aguilera
, 8 Days of Christmas finds Destiny's Child frontwoman Beyoncé Knowles taking center stage again, cowriting and arranging five new bayberry-scented numbers. But 'tis the season to be wary: "Platinum Bells" is a self-indulgent take on "Jingle Bells," while the treacly "Spread a Little Love on Christmas Day" is an odd blend of pop and piousness—its lyrics include religion and Rosie O'Donnell
, not to mention a plug for Destiny's Child's new dolls.
The belles fare better on Christmas classics layered with stirring orchestrations and soulful vocals. Kelly Rowland chimes in on a melodic, gospel-inflected rendition of "Do You Hear What I Hear," while Michelle Williams gets spiritual on the jazzy yet prayerful "O Holy Night." The group even recruits Knowles's 15-year-old sister Solange (who will make her solo debut with an album next spring) for a slinky version of "Little Drummer Boy." And though an ambitious medley of standards offers no revelations, "Opera of the Bells," Knowles's spirited revision of the traditional "Carol of the Bells," is a gift indeed.
Bottom Line: Good, but not destined for glory
- Chuck Arnold,
- Sona Charaipotra,
- Kyle Smith.